5 excuses I’ve used for not running recently – and why they’re rubbish!

My parents really know how to pose for a photo… 😀

Dude, where has this year gone!? How is it December? How is it CHRISTMAS next week?!

The past few months have flown by. I’ve been to Devon for some family time; to Nottingham to see some Uni friends; James and I went into London to see the Christmas lights and markets; I’ve been out and about to meetings and work events…

It’s been manic, and I’ve reached the point where running has slowly but steadily been nudged out of my schedule. Fail.

Next weekend, my marathon training plan will officially start (you didn’t think I’d defer Dublin and not have another one in the pipeline, did you!?) and I’m determined to finally get that sub-5. I’m also working towards a very (!) optimistic sub-2 half, which my little brother is helping me to prepare for. He’s even going to pace me on the day, so I really have no option but to make it happen! Gulp! (I mean, I can’t let him get a better time than me all the glory, right!?) 😀

I’ve decided that it’s time to ‘fess up to my rubbish excuses, and get myself back into a proper routine. Here are the five I use most, along with some counter-arguments that I need to use more! Who’s with me??

1. I don’t have time.

Uuugh, this old chestnut. Back in October, my daily commute went from 20 minutes each way to 1h20 each way. This means I now get up at 6h45 and get home between 6 and 7, and my days suddenly feel extreeemely short. But if there’s anything I’ve learnt over the years, it’s that there’s always a way to fit exercise into a work day – I just need to commit myself! Whether that’s getting up 30 minutes earlier (doable!), making the most of my lunch break or skipping an episode on Netflix in the evening, I definitely have time.

2. I’m tired.

With a longer commute, lots going on at work, busy weekends and preparing for Christmas, my energy levels are pretty low. But ironically, whilst running is the last thing I feel like doing, I’m guaranteed to feel better for it – more energised, more positive, and more productive. The tricky bit is just getting myself out the door!

3. I don’t have my kit.

Back when I was training for Barcelona, on busy days I would make sure that I had my running/gym gear with me from the minute I left the house in the morning. This meant that no matter how hectic the day got (having to be in the office early, last-minute meetings scheduled over lunch, finishing late), I knew that I could fit in some sort of workout at some point around my other commitments. Since the office move, I haven’t packed my gym kit into the car ONCE, always telling myself I’d just ‘run when I get home’. Famous last words…

4. There’s no shower/lockers/changing facilities.

The office move didn’t just mean a longer commute – it meant switching from a tiny office with a dozen people to a huge open-plan office with over a hundred (most of whom I don’t know, and wandering past them in sweaty lycra isn’t the best first impression!). Stupidly, I immediately used it as a reason to not work out at lunch – something that I used to LOVE doing. But I’ve hunted around and found a gym half a mile from the office, which means that showers and changing facilities are sorted! 😉

5. I’ve lost my fitness and it’s hard.

This is a vicious circle, and I’m sure we’ve all been there. You skip a couple of runs, and suddenly it’s been 2 weeks and you’ve not laced up your trainers once. Then you go out and try and run your usual pace, but it feels way harder than you remember. You don’t enjoy the run, and put it off for another 2 weeks – at which point it’s going to be EVEN HARDER. You’d think I’d have learnt my lesson by now – consistency (regardless of the distance or pace) is key!

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Are you finding it hard to keep yourself motivated? What are your excuses, and how do you get yourself out there?

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Dublin Marathon: Decision Time

box-hill-walk

Gorgeous views from Box Hill last weekend!

I’ve drafted and re-drafted this post sooo many times, and then I dithered over whether or not I should even publish it. But here it is.

I have a habit of setting big goals, and putting quite a bit of pressure on myself to meet them. And I’m pretty hard on myself when things don’t go to plan.

So this decision was really hard.

A few weeks into my Dublin Marathon plan, I caught a nasty cold and was out of action for a couple of weeks. When I finally got back into my running shoes, things just… didn’t feel quite right. My breathing wouldn’t settle, my legs were heavy, and even the shorter ‘easy’ runs felt like a struggle.

I hate to say it, but I kind of fell out of love with running.

I blamed it on taking a break, I blamed it on the freakishly hot weather we’ve had, I blamed it on work… But what I eventually realised was that for whatever reason, my heart just wasn’t in it anymore.

I feel a bit crap admitting it, if I’m honest!

The thing is, when it comes to marathon training, it’s not enough to just tick off the sessions on your plan. As the long runs get longer, it’s that mental drive that will keep you going – pure stubbornness and determination. And somewhere along the line, I lost mine.

I love running. I love races, and I love big city marathons. Standing at the starting line of an event I always get butterflies, and crossing the finish line is the best feeling EVER.

But I think I need to listen to my body, and accept that maybe 2 marathons (plus that little hike across Exmoor…) are enough for me this year.

So I’ve decided to DNS Dublin, and postpone my sub-5 marathon attempt to 2017. I’m going to work towards a spring race, which means training will start again a little later this year.

I feel like a bit of a failure for giving up. But I’m not going to stop training completely – I’m going to get back into parkrun; I’m going to work on my swimming; I’ll be exploring more walk routes in the Surrey Hills (suggestions or company are both welcome!), and I’ll of course be spending some quality time with friends and family.

It’s time to take some of the pressure off, and get back into running for FUN, not for finish times.

Next month I’ll be heading down to Devon to join my lovely parents for the Great West Run. It’ll be my Dad’s first race since his accident last year, and I’m really looking forward to running it with him.

Dublin, I’ll see you next year.

Have you ever DNS’d or postponed a big race?

Dublin Marathon Training: #runnersnotrunning

I have to say, I hate missing sessions on my training plan. For weeks 1 and 2, I ticked them all off – even on the hottest day of the year. But I’ve had a cold for the past week and a bit, so last week – and this week, so far – have seen exactly NO runs.

This is sooo frustrating, as I was just starting to see some real progress! To top it all off, I joined my local tri club last week, and was excited to get some cross-training in, too. However, a tickly cough and a stuffy head aren’t really that great to swim or run with. Boo.

But I wanted to get outside and do something, at least – so on Sunday, James and I decided to catch a train to London and spend the afternoon skating. It wasn’t quite the same as a long run, has to be said, but it was good fun and a pretty good workout – especially given how tense I was! (A master skater, I am not!)

We got the tube to Green Park, and walked across to Hyde Park from there. We passed lots of very tired looking cyclists (unfortunately, the Ride London ballot decided that this wasn’t my year – fingers crossed for next time!) and even saw one rider setting off for a run in his kit! As if 100 miles of cycling wasn’t enough for one day…

We sat on the curb, got our skates on … and then James had to help me up, because face-planting the pavement would have been a rubbish start 😀

Skating in Hyde Park

Step 1: skates on, and managed to stand up – with a little help!

The main goal was for me to learn to control my speed and be able to ‘t-stop’. Up until now, I’ve always just skated into poles/walls/the person I’m skating with, which has worked fine for me 😉 But James wasn’t standing for it, so I had some work to do…

Pokemon Hunting in Hyde Park

James made some new friends at a local PokeStop… 

After a wobbly start, I managed to pick up a little speed and could manoeuvre well enough to avoid the huge crowds of walkers, cyclists, skaters and runners. And then James realised that there were a ton of poke stops and lures about (and a gym), so he picked a route that would periodically take us past them all.

I was having enough trouble keeping myself upright, so my phone stayed in my bag for most of the afternoon. James, however, was multi-tasking like a boss, challenging gyms and catching pokemon and skating circles around me (literally). Sigh.

Skating in Hyde Park 2

The expert vs. the not-so-expert (but I didn’t fall over, at least!)

Hyde Park

Skating selfie! Whilst standing still and holding on to James for dear life…

But I’m pleased to say that I finally got the hang of the whole t-stop thing! I’m still not great at using it to slow myself down, and I’m still working out how to stop at short notice, but I’m hoping that after a few more practice sessions I’ll be able to join the ‘Sunday Stroll‘ – a weekly guided skate around London.

Always good to have something to aim for, right!? 😀

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How did you spend your weekend? Are you training for anything at the moment?

Dublin Marathon Training: Week 2

Oh man, hasn’t the weather been gorgeous lately!? I mean sure, it’s meant that running has been an absolute struggle, but I have to admit that I’ve reeeally been enjoying the non-running bits 😀

Denbies Vineyard

Now this is the sort of British summer I love!

My 5k on Tuesday was AWFUL. It was 30 degrees, I’d cycled to and from work (marginally less sweltering than sitting in the car!) and I really struggled. I think it’s the first time this year that I’ve actually had to take water with me on such a short run! I ended up taking a couple of breaks in the shade to cool down, and actually walked part of mile 3. Honestly, I nearly regretted getting out there at all.

On the flip side, Sunday was my long run day and I managed the whole 8 miles! I even threw the pacing out the window and hit 9:05 for mile 8. In my defense, it was a lovely long downhill, and would have been a shame to waste it… 😀

Dublin Marathon Training Long Run

A horrendous 5k vs a pretty good long run #1!

Whilst 9:05 is a pretty awesome pace for the end of my longest run since April, the plan was 8 ‘easy’ miles, and for good reason! When training for my previous marathons I’ve always set off too fast on my long runs, and faded massively towards the end – I don’t think I’ve ever run a LSR consistently, or managed a negative split over more than about 10k!

With my marathon pace hopefully around the 10:30 mark, I was aiming for a relaxed 10:40-11:00/mile, and ended up with an average of 10:25 – with only 4 out of 8 miles at my planned pace. Ooops. Granted, this isn’t much of an issue over 8 miles, but I definitely need to work on my pacing before I hit the bigger runs…

Dublin Marathon Training Week 2

Thursday’s cycle commute PB, followed 30 minutes later by a negative-split 5k!

I also focused  a lot more on my crosstraining this week, which is something that I kind of neglected when training for Barcelona. I cycled to work twice (14 mile round trip), and on the second day I actually got a PB – 13.5mph! Not hugely fast by most standards, but 1mph faster than usual 😀 It’s all progress!

I even manned up a little and joined the local tri club for a taster session on Friday. An hour of solid front crawl and stroke drills – the DOMS still haven’t gone away! But it turns out that despite sticking to breaststroke for the past year or so, I haven’t lost all of my swimming fitness – or technique! (Just the stamina. Oh my days, I struggled). I can’t wait to join the club properly and work on my swimming and cycling!

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How do you like to cross train? Is anyone doing the Ride100 this weekend?

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Week 2 summary (weeks to Dublin: 14)

Planned sessions: 3 miles easy + strides / 3 miles steady / 8 miles easy

Sessions completed: 3 miles easy (!) / 3 miles progression / 8 miles steady

Cross training: 28 miles cycling, 1 hour swimming

Dublin Marathon Training: Week 1

Hot 5k Run

Me and my smug lovely pacer 😀

How’s your summer going, you lovely lot? Are you training for anything, or just enjoying the sunshine? I can’t believe the events that people have been doing recently! Such a motivation! 🙂

As for me, today marks the end of the first week on my Dublin Marathon training plan. I think I’d gotten so used to NOT following a plan – running where and when I fancied, cross training here and there, hiking a bit – I’d let myself slip a little when it came to keeping a routine (or any kind of structure or discipline, whatsoever).

Luckily, I’ve been able to rope James in to join me on a couple of my sessions. I say luckily, as I probably wouldn’t have pushed myself so hard if I’d been alone, but I’ll admit that I was naive enough to think that he might just take it easy on me.

HAHA nope.

We set off for my third 5k of the week yesterday (it was meant to be 10k, but heat + humidity = nah), and I managed to persuade him to start slowly – by his standards, at least. Unfortunately, this meant that he then ramped things up for miles 2 and 3, taking the pace from 9:39 to 9:13 by the end. Ouch.

No pain no gain, right!?

Dublin Marathon Week 1 Training

Highs and lows: Enjoying a mocha frappe after Sunday’s cycle, and ready to keel over on Saturday’s 5k…

As I cut Saturday’s run short, I decided to get some miles in on the bike today to make up for it a bit. We found a new route along a trail we’d never heard of before (the ‘Christmas Pie’ trail, apparently!) and followed it to Farnham.

This only gave us 14 miles, but after fighting our way through brambles and nettles and hugely overgrown wooded bits (parts of which we had to walk our bikes through), we decided against an out-and-back, and got on the train instead.

We weren’t complete cop-outs, though! We jumped off at Woking, and cycled the last 6 miles home on a lovely smooth stretch of road, rounding us up to 20. Not too bad!

Surrey Cycle Finish

Enjoying the sunshine after 20 tough miles.

Overall, I’m just glad that my legs seemed fairly happy with 3 runs and some cross-training! And I’m looking forward to adding on some miles next week. Though looking at the weather forecast, I think I’m going to have to force myself out of bed a little earlier. The heat isn’t my friend!

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Week 1 summary (weeks to Dublin: 15)

Planned sessions: 3 miles easy + strides / 3 miles steady / 6 miles easy

Sessions completed: 3 miles easy + strides / 3 miles steady / 3 miles progression

Cross training: 20 mile cycle